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Archive for September, 2019

You look ridiculous

You look ridiculous, and I’m not just talking about the vests:

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 3.16.25 PM

Another pedestrian-safety tweet from the dingbats at CA-OTS. The message is: when a pedestrian gets hit, they probably had it coming.

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BART plans on replacing all its faregates. The cost will be an incredible $150 million:

BART’s board on Thursday approved a new style of fare gate: tall panels that swing open like saloon doors when riders tag in. Riders won’t see the change right away. BART has yet to identify $150 million in funds to swap out its existing 600 gates. The project has no timeline — four years to completion is the best-case scenario.

The swing gates are the transit agency’s most decisive step to tackle fare evasion, a problem that BART says siphons $25 million to $30 million a year. “It’s become clear to me that the overwhelming majority of the public wants us to address this issue,” said Director Debora Allen, who sees BART’s porous entryways as a means for criminals, transients, drug users and panhandlers to get into the system.

We already know this will not reduce fare evasion, because this type of faregate has been tried on other metros. And fare cheats can bypass faregates by using the emergency exit gate. So consider instead the following calculation:

  1. Put $150 million in a low-risk investment account, earning $6 million per year
  2. Use the $6 million to hire 20 additional full-time police officers to patrol faregates

Or even better, put $150 million into buying new railcars or reducing the maintenance backlog.

Instructional video for defeating swing faregate

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Tesla is the safest car ever

Testing out the new parking lot summon feature:

(Note: the “driver” had to emergency stop the car with his phone)

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Further delays on BART-San Jose project

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise:

BART service to downtown San Jose — including the crucial stops at the Diridon train station and First Street — could slip to as late as 2030 under some new estimates being floated by the Valley Transportation Authority. At one point, political and business leaders had anticipated BART service beginning in 2026 in downtown San Jose.

The reasons for the new estimates for BART service, as of now? VTA cites multiple factors. For one thing, environmental clearance had been anticipated in 2017 but was pushed back to 2018. Then, to help minimize disruption to merchants along Santa Clara Street, beneath which BART trains would run, VTA spent additional time to craft a single-bore tunnel option for BART’s approval. 

The EIR had nothing to do with it. The single-bore option is what caused the delay. BART had originally planned on conventional cut-cover construction, but chucked those plans to start over from scratch on a more complex design. A 4-year delay usually results in higher costs, so don’t be surprised when there is a follow-up announcement on ‘unexpected’ cost increases.

deepbore

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SMART labor un-productivity

The “SMART” commuter railroad plans to go back to voters for more money to increase the anemic service levels. One reason they cannot afford to run a proper schedule is the dismal labor productivity. For example, running trains with both a train driver and conductor:

With the dearth of engineers, SMART will also seek to hire conductors to take the place of a second engineer on the trains. The move creates a bigger candidate pool to ensure that two staff persons are on the train at all times. A conductor is certified to assist with certain train movements, but aren’t qualified to operate the train. They would be paired with an engineer. Because the conductor job class is lower in pay than the engineer, there would be savings to the agency. Conductors would earn a maximum of $34 an hour or $70,720 annually.

Train conductors are an anachronism; modern 21st-century DMU operations don’t have them anymore. The only task for a conductor these days is punching tickets — a job that is better done with occasional POP inspection.

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drivetime-4

Now you can play Jeopardy while you drive (i.e. Jeopardize the lives of other road users):

Yes, playing games in the car is for real, and it might not be as distracting as it sounds, according to startup Drivetime. Drivetime has raised $4 million to provide voice-based games for drivers. The company is convinced that not only is this safe, it helps drivers by keeping them alert for longer times.

More than half of Americans are expected to have smart speakers by the end of the year, but the trend has yet to catch fire in the car. Drivetime’s Vuori sees this as the final frontier still untouched by interactive entertainment.

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Cyclists criss-crossing the city in large packs, oh my:

SCHENECTADY — The city agrees young bicyclists are posing a public safety risk by criss-crossing the city in large packs.

But lawmakers disagree on the scope of the problem and how to quash it.

Some City Council members want a law that would allow police to seize bicycles from adolescents engaged in “reckless” trick riding like popping wheelies and zig-zagging, while others called the proposal “extreme” and advocated for less severe options for dealing with the behavior.

“It sounds like it’s not even legally viable, really,” said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo. “I just struggle with taking a kid’s bike away.”

 

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